We know they’re special creatures, but just how super is your cat?
Cats have incredible night vision and can see easily in a low level of light that us humans could never see in. This is partly because of a thing called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light passing through the retina back into the eye, increasing the eye’s sensitivity to light. Cats also have large pupils – when the light is low these pupils expand to cover much of the exposed surface of the eye. Looking good!
Cats’ ears can pick up a much greater range of frequencies than human ears can pick up. They can hear sounds at a higher pitch than even dogs. They can also hear ultrasound, an important evolutionary skill for hunting animals. Among all the world’s mammals, cats have some of the best hearing. The shape of their ears also helps, as they are large and moveable, so help amplify sound and detect the direction it comes from.
A cat’s whiskers are super sensitive. The whiskers offer lots of information to the cat about the width of gaps and the location of objects. No doubt this is another legacy of their days of hunting at night.
Cats’ sense of smell is also much better than their owners’. They can detect smells that even the most perceptive human would miss and they are also sensitive to pheromones – if you notice your cats spraying or rubbing their scent glands, that’s their way of communicating.
While cats have fewer tastebuds than humans, they experience food in a different thanks to a thing called Jacobson’s organ, which lets them to taste-smell some types of scents in a way us humans will never be able to do. They are also very fussy about the temperature of food, preferring it to be around 38 degrees. This is the temperature that freshly killed prey would be. Yum!